Sikkim - Gangtok, Lachung, Pelling: Kurseong, Darjeeling and Kalimpong
Igniting fire in you.
I really feel frustrated for not being able to manage time to write my travelogues of places I visited with my family. These places being Andaman, Rajasthan, Leh and Ladakh and this year Sikkim. The best thing I enjoy while writing is to relive those days of our tour and enjoy once again the visit as if we were there.
The program for Darjeeling and Sikkim was thought of in the month of March itself. First I tried to book confirmed train tickets to New Jalpaiguri and back by Rajdhanis for our visit in June 1, 2013 but found no confirmed tickets only wait listed. Thus decided to book plane tickets to Bagdogra. At that point of time the spice jet was offering tickets from Delhi to Bagdogra and back @ Rs. 10,000 per person. I booked it immediately although the price was little on higher side for us. I checked up the prices just before the day of departure and to my satisfaction the return ticket was available for one person for Rs. 28,000. Thus I felt happy having bought our tickets at one third of the cost.
Then the booking for accommodation was taken up. Through the website of West Bengal Tourism Development Corp. I booked three nights for Kurseong and one night for Kalimpong. For Gangtok two nights at Mintokling Guest house, Secretariat Road.
Finally, 31st May night came and I booked a car through Meru website to pick us up around 3.15 a.m. from home and drop us at the Domestic Airport 1D. We reached the airport around 3.50 a.m. and got our boarding passes. As we were quite early, the departure of the flight was 5.50 a.m. we waited for the boarding counter to open. Around 5.30 the gate opened and we got on to the spice jet bus that was to take us to the flight. Within a few minutes we were air borne. This flight was via Gauhati and before it reached Gauhati we could see the mighty Brahmaputra river with its innumberable branches spread over whole of Assam. This river is said to be the life line of Assam. Our plane halted for half an hour before next take off for Bagdogra. After half an hour flight, we reached Bagdogra. It was drizling when we landed. We booked a prepaid taxi from the Airport counter for going to Kurseong on our first leg of the tour. It cost us Rs. 970/- After two hours of driving we were dropped at the West Bengal Tourism dev. Corp. guest house at Kurseong. We had to wait for some time for some one to allot us a room. The manager was absent. When finally a person came and took our luggage to the room. We had to take a staircase (quite slippery and dirty) and a long corridor before we could reach our room. The room had a good view of the mountains. The bedcover, quilt and pillow covers were no fresh and clean. We got those things changed. After our return to Delhi I did write to the Minister in charge of Tourism and a copy marked to the Director lodging a complaint on the upkeep of the guest house. However, I am yet to receive a formal reply.
In any case, we had to settle down with whatever was provided to us. The test of water was excellent but it created upset stomach in a day and we had to resort to packaged water. In the evening we went to the Kurseang Rly. station for a visit. The station is small and cute but not clean. We got a car for local site seeing for the evening. We did have a good outing. The WBTDC run guest house is on the main road to Darjeeling but it is not noisy and the rooms have a view of the far off hills. The food provided was moderate but charges are a bit high. Weather was pleasant with rain now and then. It was a great relief from Delhi's hot weather. Nights were cool.
Next day on 2nd of July, 2013 before proceeding to see a tea garden, Makai Tea estate, we bought our toy train ticket to Darjeeling for the next day. On the way we saw another tea estate and went up the garden quite a bit and the clouds hovering around as the wind played truant. I felt nothing could replace nature's beauty and power to influence human mind with such a large spectrum. On the way we got a cab to take us to Makai Tea eastate and we could see, as far as eye sight could reach, tea gardens after tea gardens. We also bought some tea packets, being a conoisseur of tea, for enjoying tea in Delhi and also distributed to some friends. We got back to our guest house after a while.
Next day (3rd of July) we left for Darjeeling taking the toy train. The train journey was really enjoyable as it went through beautiful mountain site. The train had only two compartments one of first class and a second class one. As we had prior booking we could get our seats otherwise the compartment was crowded. Some of the intervening stations were good but the main Darjeeling station was dirty and in no way represent the good name of this hill station. All our enthusiasm to take a tour of the place waned seeing the crowd and uncleanliness of the place. We just took a walk to a tea shop and had darjeeling tea that lifted our sagging morale to certain extent. After just a few walks we took a cab and came back to our guest house. We told the driver that next day we were scheduled to leave for Gangtok and he was ready to take us.
Next day we cleared our dues with the guest house and left for Gangtok. The ride was through thick forest areas and we saw the confluence of Tista and Rangit river. As soon as we entered Gangtok we started ascending continuously till we reached the taxi stand. Here we had to take a local taxi to reach our guest house at Mintonglink.
The guest house was 2 kilometer away from the stand. With ease we reached our guest house and it was really a nice and clean place amidst verdant nature. What impressed us about the guest house was its good management and it upkeep.